The world of professional wrestling requires such finite details that a mistake is easy to make. Add in the side effects of human nature and people will tend to have at least one screw up. Unfortunately for some, their mistakes might carry a little more weight based on a number of factors. Roman Reigns is just another example of that.
It’s not really official what it was that caused him to fail WWE’s Talent Wellness Program test before the Money in the Bank event on Sunday, but it certainly didn’t help his position for being on the main event section of WWE’s roster. The failed test led to him having to drop the WWE World Heavyweight Championship to Seth Rollins, who then dropped the belt to the Money in the Bank ladder match winner Dean Ambrose.
The WWE is likely helping create a storyline that allows Reigns to take time off, but there is now a black mark on his record. This could lead to some doubts of putting the championship back on Reigns and allowing him to be “the guy.” This isn’t the first time a wrestler screwed up at the worst possible time in his career, and it likely will not be the last – people make mistakes and it’s just a matter of the wrong place at the wrong time.
Sometimes, it’s a matter of making a poor choice and in other cases, it’s a matter of a simple mistake having a much larger impact. Some are funny, and some are sad.
15 Daniel Bryan
While he rarely won matches during the first season of the NXT experiment for WWE rookies back in 2010, Daniel Bryan was considered the most popular wrestler to come out of the show – even if Wade Barrett ended up winning the season. The group of the season one wrestlers would debut as the Nexus faction in June 2010 came out and attacked John Cena and tore up the ring in one of the more memorable and destructive debuts.
In the midst of the chaos, Bryan attacked ring announcer Justin Roberts and strangled him with Roberts’ tie. The WWE quickly terminated the American Dragon, apparently having caused some problems with their sponsors who didn’t like the spot and considered it too violent. This does have a happy ending as Bryan was given a second chance in WWE later that year and eventually won multiple titles before his untimely retirement earlier this year.
14 Randy Orton
Randy Orton has had his fair share of problems and incidents that ranged from backstage incidents with female talents to injuring his own shoulder during a match. During the brand split in late-May 2012, Orton was one of the top stars on the SmackDown roster until he was suspended for 60 days for a second violation of the WWE Talent Wellness Program. It came at a terrible time because the SmackDown roster did not have as many headliners as the Raw brand and did affect the show’s ratings.
It would come as no surprise that this led to the WWE losing faith in a former champion having earned his second strike in the program. After returning from the suspension, Orton began to fall away from the championship picture for the rest of the year and through 2013; where he was mostly feuding with the Shield. It wasn’t until July 2013 when he won the Money in the Bank ladder match for the briefcase used about a month later on Daniel Bryan after he won the WWE Championship at SummerSlam.
Having been the controversial voice for promos involving Rusev in the WWE, the company seemed to have special plans for her when they had her and Rusev split up on television. It led to her stating a storyline relationship with Rusev’s rival at the time in Dolph Ziggler that led to her and her “replacement” Summer Rae having a feud that looked as if there was going to eventually lead to a match at some point in 2015.
While recovering from a wrist injury, she posted a picture on social media about her engagement to Rusev – her real-life boyfriend. This was done in the middle of a storyline involver her having a relationship with Ziggler. The news spread like wildfire and WWE had no choice but to confirm the news and make a change to their plans for Rusev, Ziggler and Lana. While the art of kayfabe has changed in today’s wrestling, the public announcement hurt Lana’s standing in the company.
12 Sycho Sid
Professional wrestling fans know that Sycho Sid was one of the stars of the WWE back in the 1990s and during his time with WCW; although that’s when he had the infamous leg injury that has been a viral video for several years online. Despite being one of the better big men in the sport, he wasn’t necessarily one of the best on the microphone. Remember, this is the same man who once told Kevin Nash that Sid had half the brain that he did.
There was a promo during his WWE run where he fumbled on the words and thought he was taping a backstage interview with Jim Ross and asked for a redo, to which good ol’ J.R. replied with “Well, we’re live pal.” Maybe there was something to that statement he made to Nash, but one has to sympathize considering how difficult it is to speak on live television.
11 Jack Swagger
When given Zeb Colter as a mouthpiece and the “Real American” character, there was a lot of things going right for Jack Swagger. He was starting a feud that would be worthy of a main event push and took a villainous take on the patriotic gimmick that is usually put against an anti-American character. It even led to him winning at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view in 2013 to earn a shot against Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Weeks later, Swagger would be pulled over while he was leaving a television taping in Biloxi, Miss. The officer found that he was driving under the influence and was in possession of marijuana. He would be charged with multiple misdemeanors. While it’s not known if this led to a change in the plans for their championship match at WrestleMania 29, Swagger hasn’t had near as big of a push since then and has fallen into mid-card purgatory.
10 Serena Deeb
Many professional wrestlers who have drinking or drug abuse problems are usually male, so it might be a surprise to see a female talent on the list. Serena Deeb was part of a very creative storyline involving CM Punk having formed the Straight Edge Society in 2010 where Deeb was the valet for Punk and Luke Gallows. Her debut involved her being “saved” by Punk and swearing to give her life to straight edge. It was a great storyline that was likely going to give Punk a push towards the main event.
However, she was released from the company due to breaking kayfabe and having been seen in public drinking alcohol. It was a story that has happened multiple times in wrestling history, but this one ended on a good note with Deeb posting on social media that she was making changes in her life after celebrating one year of sobriety in 2011.
9 Teddy Hart
One of the final students in the legendary Stu Hart Dungeon in Calgary, Teddy Hart was definitely one of the more talented athletes in professional wrestling. He was working in development for the WWE in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but was released due to a number of repeated attitude problems. Unfortunately, he continued to make questionable decisions during his career that burnt bridges not only in WWE, but other top United States promotions as well.
For one, he didn’t sell moves during a steel cage match in Ring of Honor back in 2003 and repeatedly performed moonsaults and other flips onto wrestlers who weren’t expecting the moves. He also had a fight with CM Punk at a restaurant after a TNA television taping that led to his termination with the company there. He has since been in Japan, Mexico and various independent promotions – but he was still having problems that led to suspension from companies like Mexico’s AAA in 2010.
8 Roman Reigns
It was talked about earlier in the article, but it’s worth going into more why this was a bad time for Reigns to have failed a test within the WWE’s Talent Wellness Program. First, he was just starting to build momentum as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion with five-star quality matches with wrestlers like AJ Styles – which was needed after his stock value with fans was low during WrestleMania 32.
The WWE was forcing Reigns to be the next top superstar, even though there was a large number of the WWE Universe fan base not wanting to have any of it. While he’s not the most over superstar, being suspended now adds a little bit of doubt of the company moving forward with you. It’s not a 60-day suspension that would come from a second violation, but it doesn’t help one’s case of being “the guy.”
There are only a few wrestlers in WWE history who are able to win a championship in their debut match. For Carlito, his WWE debut involved taking the United States Championship from a younger John Cena back in 2004. Carlito had plenty of charisma and was able to get over with a single apple, so the WWE could have had a great main event talent with this Puerto Rican star. However, Carlito’s personal decisions led to him being released from the company.
Back in May 2010, Carlito failed a test within the WWE’s Talent Wellness Program and the company ordered for him to go into drug rehabilitation. According to the company, Carlito refused to report to the rehabilitation facility and the WWE would terminate his contract. They would release an official statement on their website where they pointed out that his failed test was related to an addition to pain killers.
6 Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam spent several years being a mid-card talent in the WWE after being one of the top stars in Extreme Championship Wrestling. Despite being the man with the longest ECW Television Championship run and several reigns as Intercontinental Champion, Van Dam was never a world heavyweight champion until 2006 when he won Money in the Bank and cashed in successfully against John Cena at ECW One Night Stand later that year.
This led to him being the WWE Champion and the ECW Champion for the new ECW brand being formed in the company. Life was looking good until he and Sabu were pulled over for speeding and the officer found marijuana and other drug paraphernalia in the rental car. It wasn’t long until Van Dam lost the ECW and WWE championships before being suspended. His main event status was short-lived in the WWE and he was back to the mid-card until he left the company in 2007.
5 Jeff Hardy
It’s no surprise that Jeff Hardy has had his demons when it comes to drug use, including two violations of the WWE’s Talent Wellness Program in 2008 while finally being promoted to the WWE Championship picture. Then there came the 2009 arrest when police found vicodin, soma, anabolic steroids, cocaine and other drug paraphernalia in his North Carolina home. Many would have considered his jump to TNA Wrestling as a fresh start in 2010.
Things looked interesting with the formation of Immortal and Hardy making a shocking heel turn as the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. But then came when he was too intoxicated to wrestle Sting for the title at Victory Road in 2011, leading to a very quick match with Sting. Hardy would then be sent home and was gone from the company for six months and was able to earn his spot back with two championship wins since then.
4 Curt Hennig
There was once a time when Curt Hennig was known best as Mr. Perfect – an athletic star who could do nothing wrong. His finisher was even called the Perfect-plex and was undefeated for more than a year before winning the Intercontinental Championship. After his time with WCW ended with the sale of the company, he would make a return to WWE during the 2002 Royal Rumble with a performance that earned him a full-time contract.
Despite the return to wrestling stardom, he blew his opportunity with the company after picking a fight with the young, up-and-coming Brock Lesnar during a trip from the United Kingdom that is known best as the “plane ride from hell.” Hennig was apparently under the influence at the time as well. His poor decision making also cost him his life as he was found dead nearly a year later after overdosing on cocaine in a Florida hotel room.
3 Ken Anderson
According to a report from Ryan Satin of ProWrestlingSheet.com, Ken Anderson lost his job with TNA Wrestling in March because of having failed a drug test and trying to wrestle a match while under the influence. It probably doesn’t help that he had some choice words about the company at an independent show earlier this year. It’s not something that is exactly out of the norm for Anderson.
During his time as Mr. Kennedy in the WWE, Anderson was one of 11 wrestlers who were connected with a steroid ring that led to his first violation of the company’s Talent Wellness Program. He also burn bridges with the WWE after reports about how he was considered too dangerous to work with after nearly causing Randy Orton to be injured during a 10-man tag team match in 2009 – which was supposed to be his return to the WWE from an injury.
Similar to the case of Carlito, Eddie Fatu had quite the successful run as Umaga. He was a dominant force gaining wins over veterans like Triple H and Shawn Michaels and also held the Intercontinental Championship twice. Fatu was one of the better wrestlers of his physical size and had plenty of potential being a main eventer at some point. But he had his personal struggles that led to his termination from WWE.
The word around backstage was that Fatu was released in shocking fashion in June 2009 after failing to report for rehabilitation after committing his second violation under the WWE’s Talent Wellness Program. Unfortunately, he was found dead at the age of 36 in his home. An autopsy showed he had multiple substances found in his system, including hydrocodone – a sign that he had troubles staying clean that not only cost him his job with WWE, but also his life.
1 Lance Cade
Having come out of the Shawn Michaels Academy in Texas, Lance Cade had a lot of promise after growing up in Iowa – whether it was his time in a tag team with former WCW wrestler Mark Jindrak or in a country-themed tag team with Trevor Murdoch. It looked as if he had something going as the apprentice to Chris Jericho during the latter’s feud with Michaels. However, it wasn’t long after he got a pinfall win over the Heartbreak Kid that he was released from WWE in October 2008.
Jim Ross wrote a blog on his website shortly after explaining that he made used poor judgement in some personal decisions that included him having a seizure on a flight that had to take an emergency landing. Ross did say he was hopeful Cade would earn a second chance because of how talented he was in the ring. Unfortunately, he was not smart with his decisions and eventually suffered from heart failure at only 29 years old – considered linked to his possible drug abuse.
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